Coach Gene Chizik and his staff figured out how to do that two seasons ago. The opportunity is there again while the Tigers work on picking up their eighth win of the season. I am not sure what bowl Auburn is going to, or who the Tigers will play, although I won't be surprised if the trip is to Atlanta for the Chick-fil-A Bowl.
If that is the case hopefully it won't be a rematch vs. Clemson. With those two teams also scheduled to meet at the Georgia Dome to open the 2012 season, that would be four Auburn vs. Clemson games in a little over two seasons. I don't think many fans would be excited about seeing that. To me it would be crazy to match the Tigers vs. Tigers again on New Year's Eve so, if Auburn plays in Atlanta, I am hoping it won't be Clemson on the other side of the field.
The SEC has tie-ins with eight non-BCS bowl games so where the Tigers play in the postseason will be impacted by what happens on Saturday at the SEC Championship Game. If the SEC gets two teams into the BCS mix, as expected, Auburn will likely be going to Atlanta for its bowl trip. The Tigers are the sixth best team in the SEC this season so the five higher ranked teams should be gone when it is time for Chick-fil-A officials to make their SEC pick. It will surprise me if they don't chose the Tigers.
If Georgia pulls off the upset vs. LSU and the Bulldogs earn the SEC's automatic berth in the BCS mix that could mean that there are three teams in BCS bowls because I believe even if LSU loses it will play in the national title game vs. Alabama. If that happens it would move Auburn up the non-BCS bowl priority list that starts with the Capital One in Orlando getting the first pick followed by the Outback and Cotton bowls. The Outback has priority over the Cotton Bowl for choosing an SEC East team and the Cotton Bowl has priority over the Outback Bowl for selecting a team from the SEC West.
After those bowls choose their teams the Chick-fil-A makes the next selection followed by the Gator Bowl in Jacksonville, the Music City in Nashville, the Liberty in Memphis and the BBVA Compass Bowl in Birmingham.
With Tennessee, Ole Miss and Kentucky not winning enough games to be bowl eligible, there won't be an SEC team available for the game in Birmingham. If there are three SEC teams in the BCS bowls, the Liberty will also have to find a non-SEC team.
Whatever happens with Auburn's bowl plans, for the coaching staff the next six weeks are a very important time to recruit. It has been my experience that what happened in the Iron Bowl game won't have a big impact on Auburn's overall recruiting. If Auburn had a bad program, and if it had been bad for a long time, that would be a problem, but that isn't the case. A little more than 11 months ago the Tigers won the national championship, and the program has been solid for a long time.
Although the players and coaches wanted to perform better than they did this season, the Tigers won every game they were supposed to win and one game, at South Carolina, they weren't supposed to win.
With Auburn being such a great institution and such a special place to go to college, combined with this coaching staff's ability to recruit, I think it is safe to assume the Tigers will have another strong group of signees to restock a roster left short of scholarship players in 2010 by so much attrition from the 2007 and 2008 signee classes.
(If you have a question or a subject you would like me to write about in future columns, you can email it to PatDye@autigers.com.)
Editor's Note: This is part of a series of columns that College Football Hall of Fame member Pat Dye is writing for AUTigers.com about the game he played and coached. An All-American player at Georgia and one of the top head coaches in SEC history at Auburn, he also served as a head coach at East Carolina and Wyoming. Dye participates in the Legends Poll, a Top 25 rating of the best teams in college football as determined by a panel of all-star former head coaches. Dye writes three columns for AUTigers.com--The Dye-Log, the Dye-Gest and Pat's Picks.